March 31, 2015
On March 25th, President Obama issued a statement commemorating the 5th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Despite mixed reviews, the numbers speak to its success in achieving its stated goals.
Topping the list, between Medicaid expansion and public exchange enrollment, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Department, an estimated 16.4 million previously uninsured Americans now have health insurance. As the President said in his statement, the ACA “has cut the ranks of the uninsured by one third.”
Here are some other ACA numbers worth noting, courtesy of the federal government:
- 3 million. The number of young people who didn’t have health coverage before the ACA, but do now because they can stay on their parents’ health plans until they turn 26
- 9 million. The number of seniors and people with disabilities who have saved an average of $1,600 per person on their prescription medicine — adding up to more than $15 billion since the ACA became law
- 76 million. The number of Americans who have gained access to preventive care with no additional out-of-pocket costs
- 50,000. The number of preventable patient deaths avoided in hospitals over the last three years, largely due to the uptick in preventative care
- 30 million. The number of young adults who can no longer be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition
President Obama acknowledged that it has been a tough five years for the ACA. “The Affordable Care Act has been the subject of more scrutiny, more rumor, more attempts to dismantle and undermine it than just about any law in recent history,” said the President.
However, the ACA survived a challenge to its constitutionality in 2012, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law in a 5-4 decision. If it survives the latest attack, King v. Burwell, which seeks to eliminate federal subsidies for all but the state-run exchanges, it may see less pushback going forward. A decision is due when the Court recesses for the judicial year in June.
We’ll just have to wait and see.
Enrollment in Health Benefits Through Towers Watson’s Exchange Solutions Expected to Reach About 1.2 Million in 2015
March 27, 2015
By the end of 2015, approximately 1.2 million employees, retirees, and eligible family members sponsored by 1,500 different employers will be choosing their health care coverage via Towers Watson’s private health insurance exchange solutions. That’s up from 800,000 at the end of 2014, or nearly a 50% increase.
Convergys Corporation, a global leader in customer management, was one of the first companies to adopt OneExchange for its full-time employees. Envision Healthcare, a leading provider of medical transportation and facility-based physician services, and global branded media company Time Inc. are among the new employers that adopted OneExchange for their full-time employees for the plan year 2015.
Here’s what Convergys and Envision had to say about OneExchange:
“We’re pleased that OneExchange has helped us manage escalating costs associated with health care benefits for our company and our employees,” said Dennis Hicks, vice president, compensation and benefits for Convergys. “At the same time, we are pleased with how our employees have responded to the change. Post-enrollment data show us that our people chose their insurance options with an eye toward value… and over 90% felt the information they received from OneExchange helped them make informed choices.”
“Towers Watson has developed a program that allows our employees more provider, health plan and price options than previously available, which is almost unheard of in today’s health care marketplace, said Don King, Envision’s vice president of benefits and compensation. “Expanding insurance carrier options spurs competition, which improves long-term cost-mitigation opportunities.”
Towers Watson’s OneExchange has the distinction of having the longest operating history in the private exchange industry. OneExchange supports all workforce populations, from full- and part-time employees to pre-Medicare and Medicare-eligible retirees.
For more information on the growing numbers of employers choosing Towers Watson’s exchange solutions, read our press release here.
March 18, 2015
Recent data from a Towers Watson employer survey show that by 2018, the percentage of employers that have confidence in private exchanges as a viable alternative for active employees will grow to 37%. This is more than double the 17% that view them as a viable alternative by 2016.
The new data comes from the 2015 Emerging Trends in Health Care Survey, which surveyed 444 midsize to large U.S. employers representing 7.2 million employees.
Survey results also reveal that 26% of employers have extensively analyzed private exchanges, and 20% say they are more interested in adopting a private exchange today than they were a year ago. Companies that have completed extensive analysis of private exchanges are twice as likely to find private exchanges a viable alternative in 2016 than those that have not.
Participants further reported that interest in cost savings and administrative simplicity is driving their companies’ interest in private exchanges. As a result, more than half (53%) say they expect finance to play a role in any decision to adopt a private exchange model instead of traditional employer-managed health plans.
Broader trends also emerged from the survey results:
- A majority of employers (84%) anticipate making changes to their full-time employee health benefit programs over the next three years, despite the fact that cost increases have remained at historically low levels
- The main driver of changes to further lower cost increases is the ACA’s excise tax, which goes into effect in 2018. Two in five employers that have done extensive modeling of their plans say they will trigger the excise tax in 2018. Two-thirds say the tax will have an impact on their health program strategies
Other areas that employers will look at for cost reductions include spouse and dependent coverage, defined contribution arrangements, centers of excellence and high-performance networks, telemedicine, specialty pharma, and greater employee engagement in lifestyle and health behavior changes.
For more survey results in each of these areas, click here for the full release.
March 16, 2015
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., one of the world’s leading hotel and leisure companies, has adopted Towers Watson’s OneExchange for its full-time active employees and their families. OneExchange will begin delivering health care benefits to Starwood’s 26,500 associates and family members based in the United States starting on April 1, 2015. The move will enable the company to offer its associates high-quality, cost-effective health care coverage with a focus on wellness and health improvement.
“OneExchange allows us to offer more choice in health care plans and carriers, continue providing health and productivity programs to keep health care benefits affordable, and sustain our benefit programs for the long term,” said Starwood executive vice president and chief human resource officer Jeff Cava. “We feel that partnering with Towers Watson allows us to take advantage of their core competence in designing and delivering benefits, and the economies of scale they provide.”
To learn more about Starwood’s decision to use OneExchange, read our press release here.